SINCE the end of 2020, travellers who wish to enter or exit Malaysia have to apply for the MyTravelPass (MTP) permit at the Immigration Department’s portal following a new regulation to control the movement of travellers (“MyTravelPass to help those seeking entry or exit permits during Covid-19”, The Star, Oct 8, 2020; online at bit.ly/star_travelpass). However, I believe many travellers are not aware of the MTP as it has not been widely publicised in the news or even on the official government Facebook webpage.
Oblivious of the MyTravelPass, many went ahead to schedule trips only to be turned away by Immigration officers at the airport on the day of travel. Worse, some inconsiderate officers drove travellers away in a rude manner.
Travellers were told to retrieve their luggage and reschedule the entire trip. As most would have made prior hotel and flight ticket bookings, being turned away at the last minute meant losing booking fees. They would also be required to reapply for new entry permits to the destination country, which would prolong waiting time for the rescheduled trip.
Based on the experience of many travellers previously, only five to seven working days were required for the permit to be approved or rejected. However, starting from last month, this period has increased to 14 to 20 working days. This causes major problems for those who have to travel for work and students, and those who have received offer letters from companies or educational institutions to exit Malaysia.
Even after waiting 20 working days, some travellers had their applications rejected and, even worse, they were not told why. So they can only repeat the whole process and wait another 20 working days with fingers crossed. Some have had their application rejected twice, without any reasons given.
Inquiries made through the portal received the brief answer of “Insufficient documents provided” without specifying which documents should be included. Many travellers are venting their frustrations about this on social media such as Facebook.
For Malaysians who have lost their jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic and have received job offers from abroad, such delays threaten their chances to work abroad as companies might not be able wait.
The authorities really need to find ways to expedite the MTP issuing process, perhaps by delegating it to local government departments to increase efficiency and avoid delay.
I hope the public will be more aware of the need for the MTP and that the authorities will be more sympathetic to the people’s plight.